The unexpected hero, Galen the sorcerer’s apprentice, from the 1981 film Dragonslayer.
(The early 1980s had a wave of fantasy movies – Dragonslayer, Clash of the Titans, Excalibur, The Beastmaster, Conan the Barbarian, The Dark Crystal, The Last Unicorn, etc.. That came after a drought during the 1960s and 1970s. I’d imagine that the then-recent success of Star Wars and Superman facilitated that — Ed.).
This film was Peter MacNicol’s debut. It had good reviews, and is sometimes listed as a minor classic.
There are S P O I L E R S ahead. Go watch it, then come back here.
- Real Name: Galen Bradwarden.
- Known Relatives: None.
- Group Affiliation: Ulrich’s apprentice.
- Base of Operations: Craggonmore.
- Height: 5’7″ (1.70m). Weight: 160 lbs. (72 Kg.).
- Eyes: Brown. Hair: Brown.
Powers & Abilities
As a sorcerer’s apprentice, Galen was learning science, chemistry, and the elements. How to combine chemicals for specific effects.
Galen watched and learned from his master Ulrich, who performed real magic. From lighting and dousing candles to moving objects with a wave of his hand. Ulrich is the real deal. His Rituals are quite powerful.
(“Rituals” is a DC Heroes RPG term for spells that require a ceremony, invocations, components, etc. rather than be cast on the fly — Ed.).
Galen memorized the words to various spells. And after Ulrich died, the apprentice gained power through his master’s pendant.
Even without formal training, Galen is light on his feet, young and healthy. A good melee fighter. He’s a capable horseman too.
Thanks to Valerian and her father, Galen acquired:
The house of Ulrich in Craggonmore
Ulrich is Galen’s master. He is well respected and wealthy.
Besides his apprentice, Ulrich has an elderly servant named Hodge. Hodge is quite devoted to serving Ulrich. When visitors came to the door, Hodge puts on an armored vest, pot helm, and grabs a spear.
While there Galen wore a meager, tan wizard’s robe. He sometimes wore a leather vest over that.
When receiving visitors, Galen and Ulrich put on vestments to look the part of sorcerers. It’s quite a show.
The kingdom of Urland. Two generations have been held prisoner under the shadow of a fire-breathing dragon – Vermithrax.
King Gazerick once took his best fighters and rode out to do battle. They died.
This attack provoked the most terrible reprisals. Whole villages incinerated, entire crops burnt, death, and famine.
Gazerick’s younger brother, Casiodorus Rex, took the throne.
He brokered peace with the creature. The kingdom would hold a lottery twice a year. A name would be drawn, and a virgin girl sacrificed to the dragon. In return, the dragon would not terrorize the countryside.
The king hoped the dragon would grow old and die… eventually.
One farmer kept his daughter’s name from the lottery by hiding her in plain sight as a boy. Her name was Valerian.
Some didn’t want to wait. With magic becoming scarce, a group of peasant farmers sought Ulrich the Sorcerer. They asked him to slay their dragon.
Ulrich had already seen everything that transpired – in his scrying fires. By the time the group arrived, he had already made his decision.
The Road Goes Ever On
The king’s guard, Tyrian, and his men followed. They sought to dissuade the sorcerer from taking up the task, lest the dragon be provoked rather than killed.
Tyrian slew Ulrich in a test of his magic.
Galen and Hodge nevertheless took up the quest. They carried Ulrich’s ashes and pendant with them.
A little further along, Tyrian tried to stop them again. This time with an arrow in Hodge’s belly. Galen was on his own.
The deed of the day
When they passed near the dragon’s lair, Galen took the opportunity to see the creature. With only one entrance, he used magic to cause a landslide, sealing the dragon inside.
The kingdom celebrated and heralded Galen as a hero. Now that the dragon was gone and the lottery ended, Valerian revealed herself as a girl.
The King, on the other hand, was not impressed with Galen. He feared the dragon’s reprisal. The King jailed Galen. He withheld judgment for a time, to see if the dragon was dead.
The dragon freed herself. She attacked a nearby village, burning everything.
Afraid for their lives, the kingdom attempted to pacify the dragon with a fresh new lottery.
Kept from previous lotteries, the Princess Elspeth chose herself as the dragon’s next victim.
Desperate, the king begged Galen to kill the beast. Armed with Ulrich’s pendant, the spear Dragonslayer, and a shield made from the dragon’s own scales, Galen set out to face the dragon.
Duty to the kingdom demanded that Tyrian stop Galen. But Galen killed Tyrian with a spear blow.
Meanwhile, the dragon’s offspring killed Elspeth in the mouth of the lair.
Galen drew Vermithrax out and attacked her. The dragon-scale shield blocked her breath-weapon. Dragonslayer pierced the old dragon three times… before breaking. Galen had no choice but to flee.
A premonition showed the burning water in the dragon’s lair. Galen realized Ulrich’s plan.
Ulrich knew he couldn’t make the journey to Urland, so, he had Galen make it for him. Once his ashes were spread over the water, Ulrich was alive again.
Christians joined together to pray for the dragon’s demise.
Ulrich battled the dragon and both were killed.
King Casiodorus Rex declared himself, “dragon slayer”.
A curly-haired youth with a smooth face.
Galen wears plain robes at Craggonmore. When traveling he wore light summer clothes with some leathers and a walking stick. Hodge carried most of the supplies.
When fighting the dragon, Galen wore a ring-mail vest and gloves. A leather helm that couldn’t contain his curls. Ulrich’s pendant around his neck.
He carried his shield and Dragonslayer in his hands. When fighting, he held Dragonslayer with both hands.
As a young man, Galen is both impetuous and naïve.
As soon as Ulrich died, Galen claimed the title of master. He wants respect and believes this title will give it to him. Others give him incredulous looks.
Charismatic with wonder in his eye. An undying belief in a world filled with magic – while all around him magic is dying out.
Galen instantly believed he should have his master’s full power. He seemed to be trying to convince everyone else of this too. It’s why he’s so quick to accept any challenge. Like slaying the dragon. His courage is greater than his skill.
Hodge denounced him as a fraud or upstart, telling him to show more respect for the master.
The young man was humbled by his struggles with the king of Urland and then defeat in his battle with Vermithrax. When Ulrich returns, Galen is never happier to see him. To turn over responsibility to him.
Galen loves Valerian.
Ulrich: “You still wish to be a sorcerer ?”
Galen: “Oh yes, more than anything.”
King Casiodorus: “I created the lottery. Me. And from the moment it began, the dragon was tame. A kingdom has prospered.”
Galen: “At what price ?… You can’t make a shameful peace with dragons. You must kill them as I have done.”
Tyrian: “The kingdom. Every one of us. Needs this sacrifice. If you intend to interfere.” (grinning) “You’ll have to kill me.”
(Galen looks serious, tosses his shield down).
Galen: “I have plenty of reasons to kill you that have nothing to do with this sacrifice.”
Galen: “Please. I thought I was a sorcerer, I’m not. I thought I had power, I don’t. You said to be strong, I wasn’t.”
Ulrich: “But you were my boy, you were; and you’ll be stronger yet.”
DC Heroes RPG
A 258 points Character (Without equipment).
|Dex: 03||Str: 02||Bod: 03|
|Int: 03||Wil: 03||Min: 04|
|Inf: 04||Aur: 03||Spi: 05|
|Init: 010||HP: 015|
Animal Handling (Horses): 03, Artist (Stage Magician): 03, Occultist: 01, Scientist: 01, Weaponry (Melee): 03
Expertise (Chemistry), Languages (Latin).
Ulrich (High), Valerian (High).
Minor Irrational Attraction toward Valerian.
Thrill of Adventure.
Galen’s rituals have a verbal component that he must speak in Latin. He attempts to:
- Heal Hodge/ward off death.
- Open a prison cell door.
- Heat the spear, Dragonslayer.
- Light a torch.
- Finish the spell to bring Ulrich back from the dead.
With Ulrich’s pendant, Galen can use Ulrich’s Occultist skill for casting. (The pendant’s gem will glow). The pendant burns the hand if the casting fails or if a spell is against Ulrich’s beliefs.
- Dragonslayer [BODY 06, Enhance (EV): 03 (cap 08), Sharpness (EV): 07, Descriptor: Piercing, Slashing, Enhance (EV) 02 (cap 05), Descriptor: Bludgeoning, Cost: 49]. “An edge like no other on this Earth” – Valerian’s father.
- Dragonscale Shield [BODY (Hardened Defenses) 05, Enhance (EV): 01 (cap is 03), Descriptor: Bludgeoning, Flame Immunity: 07, Note: OV/RV bonus when using the Block Manoeuvre is 2 APs, Note: the OV bonus for the Shield Cover Manoeuvre is 3 APs]. The scales are stronger than steel. Galen used this shield for full cover whenever a fiery breath attack was coming.
- RINGMAIL VEST [BODY 02, Enhance (Slashing RV): 01 (cap is 06), Partial Cover]. This armor is not much more than a leather vest with large metal rings sewn into it. It comes with leather gloves.
- Leather Helm [BODY 02, Enhance (RV against attacks to the top of the head, Critical, Devastation and doubles): 01 (cap is 06)]. Galen lost this helm before he ever entered the lair.
- Ulrich’s pendant [BODY 01 INT 06, Occultist: 09, Pyrotechnics: 06, Telekinesis: 07, Teleportation: 02, Bonuses and Limitations:
- Teleportation only teleports the pendant itself.
- Teleportation lacks the +7 Range Bonus.
- Ulrich is linked to the pendant and he has control of all its Powers.
- Due to his lack of practice, Galen may only use Occultist, Pyrotechnics, and Telekinesis with the Lack of Control (-2 CS) limitation. Thus, he tends to perform low AP effects with them].
It’s unclear if the pendant has any power after Ulrich is resurrected, except in the completion of the final spell.
Galen’s weight is a best guess, as often.
The Wealth score is an estimate, and only applies after he inherits Ulrich’s possessions.
In the 1990s, Marvel published a comic adaptation of the film.
Source of Character: The 1981 Dragonslayer movie; played by Peter MacNicol.
Writeup completed on the 28nd of May, 2020.